June 17, 2009 - Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Chief Development Officer John J. Judge, and Finance Control Board Executive Director and Acting Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Stephen P. Lisauskas announced today the City’s plans for the Asylum Building located on Main, Worthington and Fort Streets.
The Finance Control Board voted Tuesday and granted authority for the City to purchase the former Asylum Nightclub Building for $630,000. The proposed plans include demolition of the building’s rear portion and the creation of additional parking. The property will be transferred to the Springfield Parking Authority who will oversee the parking lot.
Today’s announcement comes about a month after the City announced a tentative agreement for the City of Springfield School Department Headquarters to be housed in the adjacent former Federal Building on Main Street. This agreement involves a commitment of renting 50,000 square feet and an investment of approximately $3.8 million into the project. In addition, Baystate Health, a local Health provider, also committed to leasing a significant portion of the building, and a few existing tenants will also remain. City officials believe the redevelopment of the adjacent Asylum building is necessary to ensure a successful Federal Building redevelopment.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated that “the Asylum Building has been an eyesore on our City’s Main Street for a number of years.” “The open space that will be created by the demolition will directly connect the legendary Fort/Student Prince German Restaurant with City Stage and other nearby establishments and will create additional foot traffic, and retail and restaurant space,” stated Sarno. “This is a significant downtown redevelopment project that will serve our existing entertainment and restaurant establishments well and will also encourage their growth,” added Sarno.
Stephen P. Lisauskas stated “this is yet another investment in downtown Springfield and will provide for more development and more economic activity.” “While other communities are retrenching in these difficult economic times, Springfield is planning, investing and growing,” added Lisauskas.
Chief Development Officer John D. Judge stated “the acquisition of the Asylum building is an important step toward restoring the vitality of our downtown.” “This investment will lead to more people rediscovering Springfield and to greater economic activity,” stated Judge.
The Asylum Building was originally a department store and later served as the unemployment office. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the building was home to a rave club known as Asylum. The raves would last all night and it catered to teenagers. The location became problematic for the City because the young crowd would congregate in the area until the early hours of the morning. As a City Councilor, Mayor Sarno had worked with District Attorney William Bennett and initiated efforts to close down these raves. The building eventually closed and has remained vacant since that time.
Today’s announcement also brought praise from businesses located near the Asylum Building. Rudi Scherff, Manager of the Student Prince Restaurant, stated “Symbolically, this is a wonderful announcement because of the problems that had been emanating from the property over the years.” “The demolition of the building will create greater visibility for our restaurant, and provide easier access for our customers,” stated Scherff. “I’m looking forward to the project getting started and commend Mayor Sarno for moving forward with this,” added Scherff.